Book Party and Art

I recently attended a book-signing event with a friend this month.  Christine Pelosi was in Washington, DC and she signed copies of her book, Campaign Boot Camp: Basic Training for Future Leaders. The party was held in at a private home in Adams Morgan area of Washington DC.

Most of those who attended were either associated with political campaigns, congressional staffers, non-profit organizations or were movers and shakers in politics. 

I am none of these things.  

I attended with a friend who knows Christine, spoke briefly with Christine about what my adventures in Iowa, meet a brilliant young woman, and looked at some phenomenal art.

I did get to met a perfect example of the type of future leader Christine talks about in her book.  The young lady I spoke with was awe inspiring.  She is a Harvard grad who has done post graduate work in public health policy in the US and abroad.  She was absolutely amazing-dedicated and passionate, and willing to act on her her ideals and I firmly believe she is one of the people who will change this world. 

The hosts, Heather and Tony Podesta, are serious contemporary art collectors who love photography, sculpture and paintings.  There have been several articles in the Washington Post about their collection.  Walking through the first floor of their home was like being in a contemporary art gallery.  Everything  was designed to showcase their art.  The floors were neutral wood and the furniture had clean lines which  served more to accent the art than compete with it.  Two pieces in the living room seemed to compete for pride of place, an immense stone sculpture by Lousie Bourgeios, titled Nature Study (1986)  and a gorgeous  black and white photograph of Oscar Wilde by Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto.  I thought Nature Study was amazing.  It had this organic feeling that made me want to sit in front of it, staring until the stone revealed it’s secrets.  Sugimoto’s photo was shot in a Madame Tussaud’s but it was so lifelike it was mind boggling.  The host said that the works in his collection all have a twist like this and none of it is as it initially appears.

In the dinning room room I had a hard time deciding where to look first.  There was this amazing large scale photo of St Mark’s Square (in Venice) photographed by Italian artist Massimo Vitali and a series of photograph of teenagers each demanding my attention.  The photographs of the teenagers were made by Dutch artist Hellon van Meene.  The photographs were disturbing, compelling and thought provoking, each photograph showed a subject who seem abandoned, terribly alone and vulnerable.  I loved Vitali’s photograph of St Mark’s Square in Venice.  It was taken from a Birdseye view and seemed to pulse with live and vitality; it was gorgeous.

In the foyer there was a large photo by New Orlean’s artist Sharon Core, it was a work after Wayne Thiebaud.  The host told me that she was a food stylist and photographer who saw a book of Thiebaud’s work and replicated each painting by baking the cakes and decorating them to identically reproduce the paintings.  She then photographed them and the results were amazing.  The hosts have several works by Sarah in their collection and the one I saw was amazing.

Silly to say but in a house filled with gorgeous art my favorite photograph was a small one on the mantle in the room adjoining the kitchen.  It was this small amazing portrait of an older woman. I am assuming it was Mr or Mrs. Podesta’s mother or a relative of the family (I was later told, this wonder picture was of the owner’s Mother) ; but I didn’t ask at the time.  Why did I like this photograph? It conveyed all of the love and emotion I usually associate with a well executed black and white portrait, but it was in color.  This woman looked like the kind of person who was warm and genuine, who loved to make people happy, who loved to cook and feed friends and family.

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